I often get this question: Do I need a trust or a will? The answer is that if you have a trust, you also need a will.

Image result for trust/willI saw this article from the blog Fatherly and realized that even those holding themselves out as experts have no idea about the interplay between a trust and will. The headline reads: Estate Planning? Consider a Trust Instead of a Will. The article makes the reader think that it is an either-or proposition. Nothing can be further from the truth. It is almost always legal malpractice to create a trust and not also create a will.

The issue is trust “funding.” Funding a trust means that you put assets into the name of the trust (e.g. your home is title in the name of “The John and Jane Doe Revocable Living Trust”). It is true that if all your assets are in trust, when you die your trust beneficiaries will likely never use your will. However, unless you have a full time attorney on staff, something ALWAYS gets left out of the trust (frequently everything gets left out). In other words, you have a trust, but it’s empty of assets.

When assets are left out of your trust, you need a will to “pour over” assets into your trust. If you don’t have a will, and something is left out of the trust, the asset pass to your intestate heirs, as directed by the state of Arizona. Why does this matter? You could end up giving your money to someone you do not wish to receive the money.

In other words, if you want a trust, get a will too.